Friday, February 17, 2017

Zilla High School in West Godavari

The Zilla Parishath High School in Katakoteswaram Village, in West Godavari District, has 312 students in grades 6 to 10. When we first visited the school in June 2016, we found that there was no electricity in the upper floor of the building--thus no lights or fans in classrooms--including a new computer lab with six computers.

The wiring throughout the building was grim.

In addition, the student desks--really benches for four students with a common desk top--were falling apart. The students in the lower grades had no desks at all and sat on the floor. The teachers had no desks or chairs.

Further, their borewell was not reliable. Sometimes it would provide a dribble of water, sometimes none at all. The submersible pump was damaged and the riser pipe was broken.

The students were enthusiastic and happy, as was their Head Mistress--Mary Augustus, a member of the Rajahmundry Third Ward. 

They were proud of their academic and sports achievements--including Yoga skills.

Here are some of the Yoga moves they showed us.

Sister Newton gave it a try, at their urging.

It is not as easy as it looks...especially when you are old enough to be their grandmother!

When it was time to leave, we told them we would do our best to see what we could do to help the school.

The teachers and staff were happy for the prospect that we may be able to help.

Fast-forward seven months to January 2017 and we are delivering 40 brand new colorful metal desks and 8 new teacher desks and chairs--

all manufactured by the inmates of the Rajahmundry Central Jail.

There were two large lorries filled to the very

top and then some...

The students wasted no time unloading the desks, tables and chairs...

Desks and tables were lined up on the grounds in front of the building.

There was excitement in the air!

Happy faces everywhere.

Time for a group picture after the desks are all lined up after delivery!

Two months later, on 10 Feb 2017 we are celebrating with a Felicitation and Founders Day--

It all  began with a parade of drums, flags and cheers of students.

Some of the older girls in the school performed ethnic Indian dances. This dance shows love and gratitude.

Afterward, the girls wanted a snap of them, us and their leader together.

Then it was time to cut the ribbon on several desk sets, symbolizing a new beginning...

Indians cut ribbons for the beginning of everything!

Then is was off to the computer lab...this time it has power!!

The students showed us their newly acquired computer operation skills.

The school now operates an adult computer lab class in the evenings as well for village parents.

This is what their typical classroom looks like now.

Because it was also Founders Day, the school gave a report to the community and the State Office of Education regarding the school's academic and sports achievements. Here, we had the opportunity of presenting ribbons to students for their successes.

We were also showered with shawls, flower leis, a plaque of appreciation and an original painting by the school art teacher.

It was a day we will remember for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

January 2017 in Rajahmundry

New Years Eve 2017 began with an activity in the cultural hall of the new stake center.

It is traditional that the youth sing and dance.

Sudhira's birthday is also January 1st.

We had dinner with the Raju Neelapu family.

We usually play a game after dinner. This was a hot game of "Phase 10".

Here is an unusual factoid:

The store we frequent to mail courier envelopes to the Service Center is called "STD Xerox".

So, we go to the STD Store to mail stuff...

In India, when you go to a baby shower, the Indians  bring gifts and well-wishes to the mother.

They also have traditional Hindu blessings with flowers, fruits and rice, as well as lots of bangles for the new mom so that the new baby will hear the sounds of the bangles and know his or her mother when born. This shower was for Sister Bushi.

NOTE: Sister Bushi gave birth to a healthy girl on Sunday 29 Jan 2017. A beautiful baby... 

One day we walked over to the park we walk at and saw the bricklayers working on the three-story park restrooms and shed. They don't worry much about how the brick looks because they will cover it up with a concrete plaster so the brick is all hidden.

A friend, Esther, opened up a beauty parlor in her home. We were invited to attend. 

Sister Newton cut the opening ribbon and received some eyebrow work.

Dr. Seuss is everywhere--even India

While visiting the Rising Star Outreach campus in Tamil Nadu in November, we found this walk-behind tractor attached to a trailer with a seat and load area. Very useful!

Raju took us shopping at the wholesale market; we purchased blankets, bedsheets and pillows for the Pushkara Recovery Center (they call it a "De-Addiction Center"). It was so crowded we had to hire a bicycle rickshaw to transport our goods back to Raju's car.

We also went to the lumber and woodworking wholesale market to get some small blocks made for a Family Home Evening game.

On 13 Jan 2017 we went to an "Exhibition", sort of a mix of replicas of famous world sites and a county fair.

Here we went to New York, Egypt and the base of the Roman Coliseum...

Italy and


We even made it to France


to the Taj Mahal...

Oh MY!!

Kissing in PUBLIC!

Such a taboo thing in India!!!

People's mouths dropped open in amazement!

The rides looked pretty fun!!

We found a colorful tree on the way out of the Exhibition site.

The celebration of Pongal--a harvest celebration like Thanksgiving--has many traditions.

Among the traditions is for people to dress in colorful attire, make noise with drums and Indian flutes, and decorate cows to attract attention and beg for money. This troupe was outside our apartment building on 14 Jan 2017.

Darla was able to make three loaves of banana bread using our tiny combination microwave and convection oven.

It tasted GREAT!

On P-Day closest to Pongal--Hindu Harvest Festival--we joined the Elders to celebrate. Most Indians wear their best native clothing, visit family and eat lots, just like we do at Thanksgiving.

Darla wore her new kurta that she purchased at a bazaar sale in Bangalore several months ago. Larry wore his white dhoti with a white, green and red sash that was a gift from a friend who is a member of the Pondicherry Legislature--Mr. N. Dahahavelou .

Then we all went out to lunch for a fantastic ethnic Indian meal at the Green Tree restaurant in Rajahmundry.

Wow! It was great--we had large prawns in curry sauce, sweet and sour chicken curry, and chicken, prawns and mutton mixed fried rice, plus garlic nan bread.

Darla has been ironing hundreds of white shirts for Larry to wear. It is part of the missionary uniform every day. There are not many clothes driers available in India, so they must dry on a hangar in our drier room. Larry learned how to iron a simple short-sleeved white shirt, and to appreciate the work that goes into it even more!

Darla made some shrimp parmesan pasta ...OH MY GOSH!!!

It was like an oasis of home-food in a desert of curry and rice!

Later in the month on a Sunday we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, green beans, and a cucumber, bell peppers and onion salad, plus home-made-from-scratch rolls!!  Waahhhhooooooo

The second wedding in our new Stake Center...

Shaik-Kishore Wedding 19 Jan 2017

Sunday, 22 Jan 2017 the last member of the Kollu family, Shankar, was baptised.

It is now complete!
They hope to go to the Hong Kong Temple soon to be sealed.

Here is the whole family with the Elders (Elder Touthang L and Elder Kommalapati R) who did the final teaching and baptism of Sister Kollu and Shankar.

We all went to dinner at a very nice restaurant that night to celebrate.

Almost everyone from the Kollu family was with us--grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins...